Specimens of the detrusor muscle of the bladder from four patients with lower motor neurone lesion and three patients with carcinoma of the bladder used as "controls", were studied immunohistochemically for vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, neuropeptide Y, calcitonin-gene related peptide, substance P and somatostatin. The greatest density of nerves in the bladder from "control" patients contained neuropeptide Y, followed in a decreasing order by vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, calcitonin gene-related peptide, substance P and somatostatin. Neuropeptide Y- and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-immunoreactive nerves were found throughout the smooth muscle and the base of the mucosa, while calcitonin gene-related peptide-, substance P- and somatostatin-immunoreactive nerves were found predominantly in nerve bundles with a few single fibres at the base of the mucosa. Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-, neuropeptide Y- and calcitonin gene-related peptide-immunoreactive nerves were also located around blood vessels. In patients with lower motor neurone lesion, there was a decrease in the density of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-, calcitonin gene-related peptide- and substance P-immunoreactive nerves, but there was little change in neuropeptide Y- or somatostatin-immunoreactive nerves. Urinary retention, bladder areflexia and deficient sensation may be directly linked to neuropeptide neuropathy in patients with lower motor neurone lesion.